Today is the first official day of baseball's annual Winter Meetings, which means that for the first four days or so of this week we'll be innundated with tons of rumors and who knows how much actual payoff for those rumors by the time Thursday rolls around. The Pirates have claimed that they're going to be pretty quiet this week, but I'm not sure that's entirely true. They need starting pitching for sure after the Jeff Karstens non-tender last week, and I think that most signs probably point to them trading Joel Hanrahan at some point before Christmas. They'll almost certainly try hard to do so in the next few days. As always, I'll post updates on the rumors and reports that get floated as I see them. If you're interested in following along, I'll update this post for today with the biggest news getting its own post, though you'll probably just want to start at MLB Trade Rumors, because no one follows this kind of stuff as well as they do.
Let's get started with this: the Mariners are interested in Garrett Jones and the Pirates would want to try to piggyback Hanrahan onto that sort of deal to increase the return. I've written a few times that I think that now would be a great time to sell high on Jones, though I'm sure that a Jones/Hanrahan trade would throw most of Pittsburgh into a blood rage that would result in me retiring from the internet for forever. The proposed deal above is Jones + Hanrahan + "one other throw-in" for Hector Noesi, Justin Smoak, and John Jaso. With Russell Martin in the mix it's hard to believe the Pirates would be interested in Jaso at this point (though, to be fair, being able to trade for Jaso is the exact reason why I thought signing Martin was not a great idea). I don't think that Noesi is by any means the answer to the Pirates' pitching concerns, and Smoak has been hugely disappointing at the plate to this point in his career. My gut feeling here is that if the Pirates are trading Hanrahan and Jones that I'd hope they could do better than this.
LUNCHTIME UPDATES 12:46 PM: Rob Biertempfel says the Pirates are interested in John Lannan as a rotational replacement for Jeff Karstens (which is weird since he'd be nearly as expensive and less good), while he adds more smoke to the "sell high on Garrett Jones" notion by saying that the Orioles would probably be interested. The Orioles do have some young pitching that might interest the Pirates (Biertempfel mentions Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton), though there's not much evidence that that young pitching would be very good.
I would be in favor of trying to get value for Hanrahan. Even during the glorious first half his saves were an adventure. A trade now would also be selling high.
Justin Smoak strikes me as an MLB version of Snooki--she's a celebrity because she's a celebrity, even though she has no observable talents or abilities to justify her fame. Smoak has always been a prospect because he's a prospect, even though he's had no real success anywhere--he's never even hit in the PCL--or shown that he's particularly good at anything.